A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom's prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.
Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.
Making Tuesday's sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women's rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.
The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.
Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday's sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.
"Our king doesn't deserve that," said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, "The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction."
The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina's family, said she appealed the verdict.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women — both Saudi and foreign — from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.
Saudi Arabian clerics, The Canadian Press 61 Comments
[10/1/2011 5:26:21 AM]
Fundie Index: 76
Submitted By: Brendan Rizzo
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Because Allah is just.
10/1/2011 12:44:11 PM
And yet Islam is a "religion of peace" that we should tolerate and respect, just like any other religion.
10/1/2011 12:45:14 PM
Why am I not surprised that the Saudi king is gay?
10/1/2011 12:47:01 PM
Atleast Abdullah is trying. I'll give the man credit for that. It doesn't look like he was involved in the lashing thing.
10/1/2011 12:50:41 PM
His4Life- I could say the same thing for your religion. In the bible many women weren't allowed to speak out in church or even choose their own husbands. There was even a time here in America where women couldn't vote, get jobs, or even own land. So we really don't have a right to judge these people so harshly.
10/1/2011 12:51:30 PM
Why are we backing this government?!?
Oh, yeah... America wants oil. We only free countries that aren't useful to us.
I may be an American, but I know that there are certain people we simply should not back. America =/= lisence to do whatever the hell we want, even though the last decade makes it seem that way.
Yes, I know Abdullah says he supports women's rights, but actions speak stronger than words!
10/1/2011 12:56:19 PM
I heard a good point on an NPR program yesterday. The commenter said that Abdullah is like 90 or thereabouts, IIRC. If he dies in the next four years there's no guarantee that his decree allowing women to vote will stand.
10/1/2011 1:07:09 PM
Last I had heard, their king overturned this sentence. Though every time I hear this sort of story I wonder why they're so afraid of women that they feel they must control their every action.
10/1/2011 2:08:43 PM
@His4Life: Yes, we should tolerate and respect Islam, just as much as we should tolerate and respect Christianity. Not every Muslim (or Christian) is an authoritarian fuckwit who wants the queers stoned, the women barefoot in the kitchen, and all other religions banned. The fuckwits are just one of those embarrassing vocal minorities you get with any large group.
Oh, and I don't think the king is actually gay. It's just a combination of a culture where holding hands and greeting your friend with a kiss isn't gay, and a couple of posters wanting to take potshots at W.
10/1/2011 2:14:32 PM
@Percy Q. Shunn
And they said Obama was being subservient when he bowed to him, lolz
10/1/2011 2:20:01 PM
And this is one of the reasons Saudi Arabia will be firmly placed as an also-ran nation in the 21st century. Their governing class may be rich, but they'll never lead in culture, manufacturing or innovation if they keep holding half their population out of the game.
10/1/2011 3:06:18 PM
The optimist in me hopes that the woman will be let off, and that Abdullah will put his foot down and start bringing Saudi Arabia into the 21st century.
The pessimist in me expects the woman to be punished and the king's successor to be an evil bigot.
Bob, I hope the former happens.
10/1/2011 3:10:02 PM
"Bomb it to ashes" seems to be seriously considered by, ah, some people *glares at Ann Coulter* as a response to oppression and civil rights violations.
Great, Ms. Coulter et. all, they're oppressed by the government so let's just nuke the fuckers. That'll make us popular and solve the problem! Two birds, one stone!
10/1/2011 3:20:45 PM
It certainly looks like Abdullah is trying to modernize the country with all his decrees as of late. I've developed a growing respect for the man ever since he announced that women will not only be allowed to vote, but run for public office as well.
In this situation I'm going to continue to believe that the lashings were done without his consent until I hear otherwise.
10/1/2011 3:41:57 PM
It took the United States 144 years from the founding to give women the right to vote (19th amendment).
Since Saudi Arabia was established in 1932, I'm willing to cut its government some slack.
However, given that the legitimacy of a monarchy is based on the Divine Right to rule, King Abdullah is making quite a gamble riling up the country's clerics.
I suppose this is why he waited till the twilight of his life to make these reforms. I just hope his son doesn't reverse his decisions when he becomes king.
10/1/2011 4:46:21 PM
That is the most fucking pathetic, god-awful excuse for innumerable human rights violations I have ever heard.
Kindly fuck off.
10/1/2011 4:54:25 PM
Fundies need to diaf x 4328943892043892
10/1/2011 5:07:48 PM
@His4Life: Ever hear the expression, "those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"? There are plenty of Christians that want women to be nothing more than baby factories with the only place they should have being in the kitchen, the Quiverfull movement is one of them for example.
Not every Muslim is as much as a minsogynst as the Saudis. I know plenty of Muslims that hate how women are treated horribly in Saudi Arabia, one of my best friends is Muslim and his wife is a full an equal partner in their marriage and he would fight tooth and nail if anyone tried lashing/beating her. Just as not every Christian is a woman oppressing jerk ass, not every Muslim is as well.
Anyways, I feel horrible for this woman. I really hope that Saudi woman can get equal treatment in the future, though I don't know the beliefs of the House of Saud that well.
10/1/2011 5:31:40 PM
I hate how this country can do whatever it fucking wants because it has oil and we have to suck Saudi dick to get it. What is so wrong about a woman driving? Like others have noted, women drive all over the world, and the planet has not exploded from Allah's wrath as a result.
@His4Life: When will you fundies understand that every Muslim isn't a terrible person? Just like I know all Christians aren't terrible, all Muslims are not terrible. But I know why you guys think that-because the Muslims worship that awful heathen Satan in disguise, Allah. Oh yeah, Allah is Arabic for God. Whoops.
10/1/2011 6:56:06 PM
Balthazar The Wise
I have as much respect for whatever sect of Islam this is as I do for the Westboro Baptist Church.
10/1/2011 8:46:12 PM
She shouldn't even be punished for driving. The clerics should feel the lashes so they may not be as likely to use it
10/1/2011 9:46:06 PM
Hahaha, you have it backwards. If King Abdullah was gay, that would be a slight against gays, not his Imperial Prickness. Not that he's gay, it's called "other cultures". Yes, it's surprising, I know, but they DO exist!
As for respecting Islam as a whole, to hell with that and to hell with respecting Christianity too. If individual Moslems and Christians want respect, they'd better fucking earn it instead of relying on the recognizance of their religion.
10/1/2011 9:48:53 PM
I wonder how long it takes them to get rid of that law.
10/2/2011 3:34:04 AM
I hope Allah smiteth you, you evil clerics!
Seriously? This is the 21st century right? I feel like I've just stepped through time here!!
10/2/2011 7:36:11 AM
"Our king doesn't deserve that,"
To say nothing of Shaima Jastaina.
10/2/2011 7:42:03 AM
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